newjeans impact: the friendship between the listener and the music 


illustration by nadia stewart

Music has been a good representation of an individual’s personality; furthermore, the artist allows the listener to feel comforted and understood in various everyday situations. Needless to say, music and even the artists themselves have become a strong backbone that people rely on. In other words, a friend. Korean girl group, NewJeans, has showcased the relationship between the listener and their music/ artist  through the group’s music video for “Ditto”. This song made fans and even casual listeners connect to one another, speaking out on their thoughts and allowing them to go deep back into their youth. Mila Spike, a Kent State University student, and  elaborates their thoughts on the connection between the two parties. 


On Dec. 19, 2022, NewJeans released their song “Ditto” as a teaser to their upcoming album. The first time listening to the song it is super catchy, very danceable and talks about a clique romance between two people. Then the group dropped a music video for “Ditto”, but added to it was Side A, the first music video out of a series of two. 


Side A was set in the early 2000s with Park Ji-hu, playing the main character and her five friends (NewJeans), just casually having fun and enjoying life. Just like the lyrics, there’s a love interest involved that the main character has feelings for, but has not yet told them. Throughout the music video the main character records every little thing that her friends were doing, capturing the happy and simple moments of their youth. 


The audience assumed that the music video is going to end in a timeless way of “enjoying every moment of life that you have”, but the video made a huge twist that got fans confused, yet curious. Near the end, another perspective showed that NewJeans weren’t really there, thus showcasing that the main character was recording nothing the whole time. It was almost like the girls were a part of the main character’s imagination. 


Side B was released shortly after, giving more depth to Side A. The second music video allows the audience to see some of the recorded film, thus having a time jump to see the main character reflect upon her past and the memories she had with her supposed friends. 


With the imagery of the music video, fans have come up with many speculations and theories about the interpretation of the song overall. What fans agreed upon was the nostalgic feeling of youth after watching both Side A and B; furthermore, the sense of understanding the main character’s loneliness and dependency on her imagination to keep her company. Additionally, this is almost the same way a listener can turn back to their previously loved music as an escape from the present by going into the happier days of the past.  


Joshua Diamond, a professor at Kent State University focuses his honors colloquium around the psychological impact that music has. “For most people, musical taste is first informed, first, by the music soundtracking their childhood, and second by the music that helped shape their social identities in adolescence through early adulthood,” Diamond said. “As we get older, people tend to be less and less open to adopting new music because there is no longer a social impetus to do so. So once the work of identity-formation is over, most people’s musical tastes are cemented, and as we age, revisiting our favorite music (most of which is from childhood through early adulthood) becomes an exercise in nostalgia, which is the most powerful emotion that music can elicit in a listener.”


NewJeans is one of many artists that help connect the emotional feel of the relationship between the music and the audience. Many musicians create music to not only help with their circumstances, but also let their fans and other audiences know that they’re not alone when it comes to their hardships. 


Even though Mila Spike is a chemistry major, music still plays a big role in her life. She noted that a lot of people have deep connections to the music they listen to because “it has to do a lot with reminders from someone’s past or people in their lives. Songs that connect deeply with people can spur a feeling that reminds them of what used to be or what is possible in the future”. 


“Depending on the artist, I believe many try to elicit a certain feeling in their music, however listeners are able to interpret the music in ways that may not have been intended,” Spike said. “I think overall though, many artists, especially ones who involve themselves in their fan base, understand the effect they have on their listeners.” 


Furthermore, the artists today have an easier access to create a bond with their target listener through the growth of the internet. Social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Twitter  allow interactions not only between fans, but the artist can engage with their fandom as well. The comment section, live streams and short videos are just some functions that can help the artist discover more about their fans’ everyday lives, beliefs and attitudes.


“In the digital age, artists probably have a much clearer idea of how their art impacts their audience,” Diamond said. “Pre-social media, artists could gauge fan engagement by album sales, reviews, fan mail and the interaction of live performances. Today, however, artists are in constant contact with their fanbase.”


Society has yet again connected itself to one another through a mutual interest. Even if some music is interpreted differently, it still can make a person feel free, understood and even nostalgic. The audience may never know the true impact of music, until those headphones are on. 

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